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Friday, May 4, 2012

Creativity and Madness: Are They Inherently Linked? | Michael Friedman, Huff Post, GPS for the Soul

In a word, according to Friedman:
He continues, quoting Shakespeare, a couple of mythmakers who made the link between creativity and madness, the recently published Jonah Lehrerm, and a couple of other folks. But then Friedman writes [emphasis added]:
The myth that creativity and madness are inherently linked is, at best, a vast overstatement. Why does this matter?
In answer to that question, Friedman gives one example and writes:
On the upside, the myth appears to be a source of pride and hope for some people with serious mental illness.
On the other hand, Friedman lists some "significant downsides to the myth":
  • It glorifies mental illness and may diminish the sense of how important it is for our society to address it seriously.
  • Some people with mental illness reject treatment that might be helpful to them because they fear being robbed of their creative abilities.
  • It may discourage people with artistic potential from engaging in artistic activity.
  • It neglects the healing power of art for people with serious mental illness.
  • It neglects that fact that participating in artistic activity can contribute greatly to achieving psychological well-being.
Friedman's conclusion:
The myth that creativity and madness are inherently linked has a certain romantic appeal, but it does little -- if anything -- to promote human well-being.

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